Thursday, September 26, 2013

As I said GT-D will see the most movement (Updated)

 As Grand Am's final season (thankfully) comes to a close at Lime Rock which ironically won't be apart of the merged series next year, lots of news is coming out of both paddocks.

 Let's get started shall we...

  •  CORE Autosport will become the official factory Porsche team. No surprise there, John Bennett has spent big to impress Porsche (securing a new tub after the accident at Baltimore) and has a first class race shop in NASCAR country.

  • Falken Tires is likely to be the only other team to get a 991 series Porsche 911 GT3-RSR currently only running in WEC with Manthey. That means....

  • Paul Miller Racing may drop out of GTLM and into GT-D with another manufacturer. You'll notice on their website that they are also Audi and Bentley dealers. PMR says they have talked to both companies about a GT-D program and I know Bentley desperately wants to race in USCC next season.  This is because they are not likely to get one of the limited supply of Porsche 991 based GT3-RSR race cars next year.

  • Muehlner Motorsports America is said to have ordered a Porsche 911 Cup "America" from Porsche Motorsports North America. As I have said before this is a bad decision, but its based on their business model so no-shock there. When they are not as fast as the FIA GT3 based cars, they'll be looking for help from IMSA....

  • Park Place Motorsports also is said to have ordered a car, despite the likelihood of losing Pat Long to the Core Autosport program. 

 First a bit of a history lesson. See I have been following GT3 since its early days in Europe. Porsche thought one of its normal Cup cars with TCS added (ABS has been on the Super Cup cars since the mid 2000's) would be competitive. Initially it did but as the other cars became more reliable, the Ford GT then built by Matech became the dominate car. 

 So much so, the SRO/FIA tried to slow it down. They ended up winning all three championships anyway (Teams, Driver's and Manufacturer's). I believe that was 2007. In 2008 Matech returned but they were no longer dominate. This time it was the Corvette Z06R built by Callaway Competition Germany.

 At this point the SRO and FIA were still trying to balance the different makes; the dominate makes at this point were the Audi R8 LMS, Matech Ford GT and Callaway Corvette. Audi had race victories but no championships (not in the European series) while Matech and then Callaway had taken the championships. Then in 2009 Audi finally got serious about its R8 LMS program. Porsche tired of not getting even race wins, came back with a modified Cup car, called the GT3-R 

 The moral of this story is two fold.

 1) The Porsche was missing the the downforce the other cars enjoyed. That's why the GT3-R has much more rear tire, much bigger rear wing and front splitter. Now they started to win races not only in FIA GT3 but when the GT1 series switchover to GT3 cars in 2012 (at Zolder).  I think they might have even won the FIA GT3 Championship in 2011 but I have to check that.

 The point is Porsche needed to add downforce and more rear mechanical grip to be competitive with the other GT3 cars. The America will not be competitive. They might be okay at Daytona, but when they start hitting the twisty tracks on the schedule they'll go crying to Scot Elkins for a competition adjustment.

 2) Porsche' team of factory drivers will be very busy. Wolf Henzler is likely to continue with Team Falken. Its likely Paul Miller Racing will no longer require the services of Marco Holzer. He might be assigned to the Core Autosport Porsche effort along with Pat Long who is already with the team. Other drivers with previous track knowledge in America will become very valuable to Core's efforts.

 This leaves little resources for a team like Muehlner and the lack of overall pace will show up on-track.

 But wait there's more - 

 JDX, Flying Lizard and Alex Job are also close to confirming Porsche America efforts. That puts about half of the current GTC paddock in Porsches. Out of the regular runners, that leaves NGT/Momo and Dempsey yet to confirm their plans for 2014.

 That is leading to some consternation over in Europe that P2 teams might not be invited to Daytona/Sebring season opening races. Given what I just said you can understand because it looks like GT-D will be at capacity or over-capacity.

 If we go with current combined numbers as stated here that's about 20 cars expected for the entire season not just the NEC (North American Endurance Championship).

 Let's count....

  1. Alex Job, two cars (2)
  2. Flying Lizard, two cars (2)
  3. Muehlner, one car full season (1)
  4. JDX, one car (1)
  5. Park Place, one  car (1)
 That's seven confirmed or semi-confirmed efforts as reported by John Dagys of Sportscars365

 I think its safe to assume that half the twenty car field will be Porsche 911 GT3 Americas.

 The only non-Porsches seem to be those who currently don't own one. Out of all Rolex GT teams, that leaves Magnus Racing yet to confirm staying with Porsche. As mention, NGT/Momo and Dempsey are yet to say anything.

 As far a I know Fall-Line will be in the series and appear to be the only two car Audi effort in GT-D next season. It also looks like the Ferrari teams will continue, but Mike Hedlund who drives for JDX in the ALMS and the Extremespeed Ferrari of the now defunct Grand Am series has expressed disappointment in the rumor that GT-D (and LMPC) will be slowed down from its current pace in the ALMS.

 We'll know more as the official series testing will get underway in Nov, but I guess Elkins is assuming that even with the changes to the DP's, the P2's will have to be slowed down as well and since LMPC's with a pro driver are only about 2 seconds off P2 pace and already faster than DP's, they need to be slowed down.

 I guess its more about allowing GTLM cars to pass slower LMPC cars easier and all the cars to pass GT-D easier.

 I just don't understand it myself. I am going to assume that DP's will be able to get back some of the 5-6 seconds in pace they lack currently. But that might included slowing P2's down a bit with to gain that final 1-2 seconds.

 I don't see how you can do that and leave GTLM alone, slow down LMPC and GT-D as well. I guess since all the GTLM are factory ran or blessed, I guess it would prove more politically unpopular to slow them down just for TUSCC competition and have to reconfigure the cars for Le Mans.

 This is horrible PR move here if they slow down the Pro Am classes. Fans get excited about competitive teams, great racing and track records. If you're constantly dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator its going to offend quite a few fans from the ALMS side of things including me.

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